The 2011 Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival is almost here!

Peggy Shumaker

It was founded in 1980 as a one-week Jazz Festival. In 1981 classical musicians asked to be included, and it became Jazz to Classics. By 1982 dance, opera, theatre, musical theatre and visual arts were added, and it became the Summer Arts Festival with a two-week schedule. Over the years ice skating, creative writing, healing arts, accordion, harmonica, filmmaking, American Roots music, World music, and even such classes as cooking to dance by have been added.

Jo Scott was the original co-founder and remained in charge until last year when she retired (at 80.) I expect to see her there this year.

My main interest, and the class I’ve attended since it was added to the Festival, is Creative Writing. Peggy Shumaker, the current Alaska State Poet, founded Creative Writing, and will be there again this year. Other returning

Jeanne Clark

instructors are Jeanne Clark (poet and Border Collie rescuer, California) Margo Klass (Artist, Fairbanks, who’ll be teaching us about handmade books) and Frank Soos (Fairbanks, essays and short stories.) New this year will be Jonny Gray, from Illinois, who studies the intersections of performance, rhetoric and environmental communication.

Most of the classes at the Arts Festival are at most an hour or two a day, but creative writing goes from 9 in the morning to 4:20 in the afternoon. I’ve offered once again to turn over my blog to the class for the length of the Festival: July 17 – 30. Blogs will be a short summary of the day’s activities and homework (yes, we have homework, though it’s all on a “if you choose to accept this assignment” basis) with other students encouraged to post their work as comments.

Margo Klass

The Summer Arts Festival in Fairbanks is now literally a word-wide event, with instructors and participants coming from all over the globe. In addition to daily Lunch Bites (brown-bag concert samplers, with everything from brass bands to solo performances) there are evening concerts and recitals almost every day. Some concerts feature guest artists, but toward the end of the festival the various student bands, orchestras, dance groups singers and others each have a public event. Creative writing readings are scheduled for the 29th, but I’ll attend several others.

My regular blog schedule will be interrupted except for the blogs I manage to pre-load before the Festival starts. Right now that is the Six Sentence Sunday posts. Hope you enjoy reading about the class, even if you can’t attend.

Frank Soos